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UPDATE 2-AstraZeneca lifts revenue guidance on COVID treatment

·2 min read

(Releads on guidance, adds details on new chairman)

By Natalie Grover and Ludwig Burger

July 29 (Reuters) - AstraZeneca on Friday said it now expected sales growth of more than 20% on an increase in prescriptions of its Evusheld injection to protect against COVID-19 after second-quarter profit topped analyst expectations.

The London-listed company raised its full-year revenue guidance, saying it expects it to rise by a percentage in the "low twenties" rather than the "high teens" forecast previously, keeping its profit forecast unchanged.

Second-quarter core earnings came in at $1.72 cents per share for the three months ended June 30, on revenue of about $10.8 billion.

Analysts on average were expecting profit of $1.56 cents per share on revenue of around $10.5 billion, Refinitiv data showed.

On Friday, the company also revealed the replacement for non-executive Chairman Leif Johansson - Michel Demaré will take over once Johansson retires next year. Demaré currently serves as the chair of AstraZeneca's remuneration committee.

Johansson became chairman in 2012, around the same time Frenchman Pascal Soriot took charge as chief executive.

The move effectively rules out Soriot, who fended off a takeover approach from Pfizer in 2014, as a chairman candidate.

As past chairman of Syngenta, Michel Demaré in 2015 led the of Swiss crop chemicals maker's successful defence against an unwanted takeover approach from U.S. rival Monsanto, which resulted in the agreed acquisition of Syngenta by ChemChina.

AstraZeneca said it now expects increasing sales of Evusheld - an antibody-based COVID-19 treatment for those with a weak immune system - to offset a decline in sales of its vaccine Vaxzevria, developed with Oxford University, amid growing competition.

The company previously expected Evusheld growth not to make up for the decline in Vaxzevria sales.

Astra's best-selling product Tagrisso against lung cancer saw revenues increase 7% to $1.4 billion while sales of cardiovascular and diabetes treatment Farxiga jumped 51% to $1.1 billion in the quarter, both slightly ahead of market expectations.

(Reporting by Natalie Grover in London; editing by David Goodman, Jason Neely and David Evans)